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May 1, 2024

A Beginner's Guide to Markdown

Justin Golden

Photo credit @uns__nstudio on Unsplash

If you’ve ever come across README files, blog posts, or discussions on platforms like Reddit or Discord, you might have noticed a certain formatting style. This is Markdown—a lightweight markup language designed for easy readability and writing on the web. Let’s dive into why Markdown is useful and where it’s commonly used.

What is Markdown?

Markdown is a plain text formatting syntax that allows you to add formatting elements to plain text documents. It was created by John Gruber and Aaron Swartz in 2004 with the goal of enabling people to write using an easy-to-read and easy-to-write plain text format, which can then be converted into structurally valid HTML.

Why Use Markdown?

Markdown is useful for a variety of reasons:

Where is Markdown Used?

Markdown is widely used across various platforms and contexts, including:

Basic Markdown Syntax

Here are some basic Markdown syntax elements:

Formatting Code

If you use triple backticks, leave the rest of that line blank. You can also write the language you are using if you want syntax highlighting, for example, ```html and then write your html between the triple backtick lines. Use md instead of html to format as markdown. You can write js, ts, css, json, and plenty of others depending on the support of the markdown engine you’re using.


You can also create tables and other complex structures, and there are some variants that allow strikethrough (~), allow underscores (_) for bold and italic, and more. The above syntax should get you through 99% of use cases.

Check out Markdown Guide and Common Mark for a good break down, Daring Fireball for a more in depth guide. Try MarkdownTutorial.com for a tutorial walk through.


Markdown is a versatile and easy-to-use markup language that simplifies the process of formatting text for the web. Whether you’re writing documentation, blogging, or participating in online discussions, Markdown can help you communicate your ideas effectively while maintaining readability and clarity. So go ahead, give Markdown a try, and unleash your creativity in writing!


If you want to render triple backticks in a code line (such as what I needed for this article 😅), then you can write:


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